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Gardner Porcelain Order Services
Catherine II, who commissioned the Francis Gardner Porcelain Factory to produce the porcelain Order Services, derived her inspiration from similar pieces created by European factories. In 1743, the Empress Elizabeth I was presented by Augustus III, Elector of Saxony, with a Meissen service bearing the symbols of the Order of St Andrew First Called. Then, in 1772, Catherine received from Frederick the Great of Prussia a service created by the Berlin Porcelain Factory which included pierced baskets and leaf-formed dishes. Not to be outdone by the Europeans and wishing to encourage Russian craftsmanship, Catherine commissioned the Gardner Factory to produce services incorporating the ribbons, stars and badges of the important Imperial Orders. Three services were comissioned in 1777: St George, St Andrew First Called and St Alexander Nevskii. The fourth service, that of St Vladimir, was ordered in 1783. The Gardner Factory, while looking to the examples of the Meissen and Berlin services, produced exceptional services which were completely Russian in style. These were used once a year, on the feast day of their name saint, when the knights of the Order would dine at the Winter Palace. The decorations for the services were designed by academician G. I. Kozlov, who also designed the Orlov service, and sent from St Petersburg to the factory in the Moscow region. The Gardner Order Services seem to have been used until the time of Nicholas I, who transferred them to the Hermitage and replaced them with copies made by the Imperial Porcelain Factory. The Gardner pieces remained in the Hermitage until the 1920s, when many pieces were sold or dispersed to collectors. The pieces from the Order services are held in the collections of many museums worldwide, including The Russian State Museum, the Museum of Tsarskoe Selo, The Hermitage, The Historical Museum, The State Ceramic Museum in Kuskovo, the Musée de la Légion d'Honneur in France, The Museum of Russian Art in Hillwood, in Washington and other museums in the United States.